This week Sid and I attended a one woman play created and performed by Sid’s daughter Ruby Rose Fox. It was a creative way to release her newest album “SALT”. At the event I sat between Sid and his ex-wife Betsy, and suffice it to say, historically such times together (graduations, weddings) have not been easy between the two of them.
As part of the play during one poignant song in particular which Ruby had written of course, the backdrop was video footage taken by a local TV network years ago covering the bone marrow transplant that Ruby had given to her younger sister Dalia, who unfortunately did not survive her fight with leukemia and died just before her sixth birthday. All marriages have their challenges but statistics show that withstanding the death of a child is not usual as Sid and Betsy learned when their marriage ended after years of struggle.
As the lyrics and video of their lost child played, Betsy reached across me to hold Sid’s hand and as the music continued, she and I ultimately were holding hands and crying together. So much pain. Such loss. Can anything be worse?
And yet, all these years later, this tragedy has shaped this family’s lives in ways that show God is with them, despite the pain, and is carryng them through it.
Ruby is a gifted singer-songwriter, working through the pain of the loss of her sister with her music.
Dalia’s death was not caused by a failed transplant. Rather, she died as a result of Aspergillus fungal spores that invaded her lungs. Dalia’s death must have influenced her mother to get a Masters in Science, developing the thesis that these microscopic spores that were most likely carried into her daughter’s hospital room on the clothes of visitors and hospital staff, or even just in the air, were deadly to a child with a compromised immune system from radiation treatment. Changes have been made to hospital protocol as a result.
Betsy probably applied this information as well as her knowledge of fabrics and sewing to become a consultant to our armed forces, designing protective clothing for the military. Most likely the outworking of her grief was a catalyst to this research which now saves the lives of our service men and women in the Middle East when exposed to chemical warfare.
Sid will admit that he is a changed man after the death of his daughter. He was broken. The walls came down and he became emotionally available, vulnerable, in a way that was not there before. That was part of his charm, as I stood with him on the 10th Yahrzeit of Dalia’s death the year we met at the UMJC conference in Orlando. How HaShem threw us together, I, from Ohio and he, at the time living in Watertown, MA, while all of my siblings and two adult children, originally from Ohio, had also “coincidentally” over the years moved to the Boston area. They had been urging me to move here, since at the time, I was living alone in Ohio, but I would not have moved here were it not for meeting Sid.
The many lives Sid has touched by the founding of Camp Or L’Dor with Rabbi Nathan has been and continues to be a blessing beyond words. Would the earlier Sid have had the heart for teens and wanted them to experience HaShem through the outdoors had he not been broken? Maybe. Would I have moved to New England had my marriage not ended? Absolutely not. And our ability to be a part of the Messianic Jewish community here are all ripple effects of losses that ultimately are being worked for the good.
In the depth of our challenges, we sometimes can’t imagine any hope, that is, unless we stop trying to have it all make sense at the time. At those times, we often can’t see a way out, a good outcome, a solution. The situation is beyond our abilities to solve. The pain is unendurable. When we experience something as painful as the loss of a child, or even a trial less devastating, our hope must be in Him as He guides our choices, often unbeknownst to us at the time as to their profound nature to help us and others we touch to heal.
Knowing that the intensity of the moment will pass brings us peace. Knowing that our Abba is in control, not us, helps us to continue. And perhaps someday looking back, when the event is tapped into as a painful memory rather than as a continuous stab, we are given the gift of awe to see His workings in our lives.